Games People Play

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube, the six-sided, three-dimensional puzzle that was the bane of many a Generation X’er back in the 80s. It got me thinking about all the games I grew up with and the role they played (no pun intended) in my childhood.

My family loved games – the old school kind that involved tiny plastic or metal pieces, rainbow-hued paper money, and coated cardboard playing areas. Our den closet was the main storage area for our game collection; it was where you could find Battleship, Monopoly, Sorry, Risk, Clue, Benji (which was an awesome game). On a shelf by the stereo in the living room, there were two clear plastic storage boxes where we kept travel games, card games and 3-D puzzles.

Rubik's Cube, Rubik's Missing Link, Rubik's Magic Snake, Pyraminx, Ivory Tower, Whip It, puzzles, 3-D puzzles, games
Some of the puzzles from my youth.

Because I was an only child, I had to either convince Momcat to play games with me, wait until the weekend so Momcat, Pops and I could play a game together, or find a friend to play. Deena loved games, too, so we played many of them together. Inner Circle was one of my favorites, as was one that had plastic square pieces with rotating numbers that would change as you moved around the board (anyone remember the name of this game?). But our favorite was the Mad Magazine game.

board games, games, Mad Magazine, humor
Mad Magazine Game – never read the magazine, but man, I loved this game.

A few years ago I gave the game to Deena, who was so excited as she’d lost her version. We played and she beat me, and we had a great time, but it wasn’t as fun as when we sat in my carport on a warm spring day, avoiding the oil spots, putting the “this card can only be played on Friday” underneath the board when we played the game on a Friday.

Two summers ago I found a good home for many of our board games with my friend Kirsten and her family – I heard her husband was even more excited than her kids about the games. Deena ended up buying several of the old 3-D puzzles from me, too. But that Rubik’s Cube? It’s staying with me, even if I’ll never be able to solve it.

What were your favorite games from your childhood?

Life Lessons and Solitaire

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of solitaire on my iPhone. I have a free app called Sol Free that has six different solitaire games. There’s Baker’s Game, which is particularly difficult at times, and Demon, which I often have better luck with but sometimes it kicks my ass. Spiderette is very similar to the Spider Solitaire found on computers running Windows, but it’s much easier on my iPhone app than it’s ever been on Windows.

This morning as I was playing Spiderette, it occurred to me that in order to win at solitaire, whether it was Demon or Baker’s or whatever, I had to let go of the logical, methodical approach. With Baker’s, you can only stack the cards and move them in suited, sequential order – none of this “put the 9 of Clubs on the 10 of Diamonds.” Trying to get to the nearest Ace so I can start building up a suit doesn’t always lead to me winning the game. Nor does it help to tackle one suit in one fell swoop. Just because it’s easy to access the 4 through the 9 of Hearts doesn’t mean that’s going to be the key to winning the game. No, it might be better to stack the 9 and the 8 first, then see what other cards – and suits – I have access to as a result of that move.

Everyone knows I love a good analogy, so here it comes: I think approaching life’s challenges is very similar. Sometimes logic just doesn’t work. Sometimes methodically plugging away at a task, a relationship, or a job doesn’t reap the reward you want or need. Sometimes you have to look at your cards and decide that even though Plan A makes a lot of sense intellectually, it doesn’t make sense emotionally, and therefore Plan B is the best course of action.

Life doesn’t offer an Undo button, like my iPhone app does. But as long as you keep playing, there’s always a chance to start over.

Wednesday’s Wackiness: Snap Attack Game

This week’s wackiness comes courtesy of the Eclectech website, full of “a lot of stuff and nonsense.” While you could roam their website all week long and never run out of wackiness, this game is strange enough to warrant a mention. I found it courtesy of my Page-a-Day calendar on Weird Websites.

Snap Attack is a game in which you have 60 seconds to snap photos of the strange things crossing your path. Get the wacky in the crosshairs of your “camera” and click the mouse to get the picture. Penguin in a sequined top hat? Click. Dancing yak? Click. Dog on a unicycle? Click. When the time is up, your score is displayed in the bottom right corner and a slideshow allows you to view your images.

So when you hit about 3:30 pm today and you’re feeling a bit antsy, check out the Snap Attack game. Maybe its sheer weirdness will help you make it to quittin’ time. And tell the flying cow in the tutu I said hello.